Recently I had a discussion with my husband about the people we have hired over the years to work on our home. We discussed if we had hired them legally and if they were legally allowed to work in the US. We were not sure if our hiring for professional and home services were legal or not.
Consider the following people an every day American would hire to work in his home
1. A lawn service: They set the schedule; they use what appears to be their equipment. You pay them in cash as requested. They are not on your payroll, nor do you supervise them in anyway. These people are obviously immigrants. Are you doing legal business?
2. An electrical engineer: He comes and quotes the job. He gives a written estimate, requests the check be paid to his business name, and writes receipts with every payment. This person is obviously American. Are you doing legal business?
3. A plumber: You hire him through a home contractor referral group who does the bidding for him, but you pay him directly, in cash. He does not issue receipts. This person was obviously American. Are you doing legal business?
4. A cleaning service: You hire a cleaning service through a business card on your mailbox. All agreements are verbal. A crew comes to your house once a week and cleans it. Only one person on the crew ever speaks English. The owner picks up the check herself that you write out to her business name. Are you doing legal business?
5. A drywall crew: You speak to the foreman on a house that was being built down the street. A worker shows up and gives you a written quote. It is very low, but it is written, so you go with it. Although the foreman is American, the person who writes the quote and supervises the workers in an immigrant. They ask for payment in cash. Are you doing legal business?
6. An independent housekeeper: She is obviously an immigrant who you pay by check. Your agreement is verbal. At the interview, she tells you she is in the country legally with her husband who has a work permit for a major corporation. She shows you her local driver’s license and her social security card. Are you doing legal business?
Here are the answers:
1. You are probably not doing legal business with the lawn service. The cash only payments are a tip off. There is also a good chance that they are doing business on the side using their employer’s truck and equipment. We had such a business arrangement and fired them when we realized we were being unfairly charged and called the number on the side to the truck. They also lost their jobs for doing their own work on business hours with business equipment. We had no financial recourse. We should have called the number on the side of the truck and requested a written agreement on business letterhead. You can also ask to see a business license.
2. You are probably doing good business with the electrical engineer. However, to be sure, you should ask to see his identification, and Electricians license. We did.
3. You may be doing legal business with the plumber, but he may not be legally reporting it. The referral service claims to have checked his references, but how can you be sure? Have you seen his plumbers or business license? We did not. When we found a problem later, the referral service had no contact number for him, nor did we have any recourse against him.
4. You may be doing legal business with the cleaning service, but is she? You need not only ask to see her business license, but proof that her workers are legal. We did not realize that at the time. We would not make that mistake again.
5. You are probably not doing legal business with the drywall crew. Chances are the foreman did not want to deal with the small job, and gave the business to one of the workers instead. We were seriously scammed when we did this and had no recourse. You need to make the deal with the contractor and in writing. He also needs to show you his licenses and insurance. What recourse do you have if he burns down your house? Our home is still standing, but they did not finish the job and it cost us a lot more to fix the mess they made.
6. You may be doing legal business with the housekeeper. She is technically not your employee. She has legal right to do business in this country, accepts check payments. It is a good idea however, to make sure she has insurance and a business permit, but you don’t have to.
In summation, there is not way for sure to know if a person is doing legal business in this country unless you ask for proof. Not all small businesses require licenses. Some businesses work as DBA and report their income on their income tax forms. Many businesses do however; require licenses and you should ask to see them.
To stop the flow of illegal aliens into this country, you need to stop doing illegal business whether the person is an immigrant or an American. We, the Americans have created a culture of breaking the laws, of getting over on the government, and of taking shortcuts to save a little money. The illegal immigrants are only taking advantage of it. If we eliminate these practices, then we do not attract people who exploit it.
To eliminate this culture if illegal transactions, which attract illegal workers, everyone needs to:
• Ask to see licenses
• Ask to see social security cards, tax payer id’s and business licenses
• Refuse to pay in cash (check and credit cards only)
• Ask for proof that anyone an employer sends to your home is legal.
• Stop letting the lower initial cost cloud your judgment. It will only cost more later.